From the moment I learned that Heather was pregnant with Maddie my life revolved around that little girl’s life. In those early days I was consumed with thoughts of how I could help advance Heather’s pregnancy as far as possible. That meant carting Heather around to different doctors, keeping Heather’s spirits up, and waiting on her hand and foot during her extended bed rest. It also meant many private moments where I would close my eyes and think, “Please, oh please let my baby girl make it.”
Later, when Maddie was in the NICU, it meant spending endless hours at the side of her isolette (later her crib), learning to change her diapers, holding her in my arms, and singing her Beatles songs.
Finally, Maddie came home, and our two lives became entwined even more. Late night feedings, mornings cuddled up on the couch, afternoons spent giggling while making silly noises, all of these things were done together. There wasn’t my life or Maddie’s life (or Heather’s life), but our life. She was my daughter, and I felt like I knew where my life was going when she was in it.
But then, three years ago this Saturday, Maddie was taken from us. The life we had together… our life… was lost.
I’ve soldiered on since then, and so has Heather. We’ve had another beautiful daughter who lights up our lives, but it is impossible to shake the feeling of uneasiness. When Maddie was here my days were filled by her. But now – and for the last three years – not even a single second has been spent with her. She is gone, vanished like a dream in the night, and it is very hard to process.
I try my best to still include her in my life even though she’s no longer here. I speak to her urn, I sing songs I wrote for her, I look at her photos and videos, and I write posts like this one. But it all feels so empty when compared to a kiss on Maddie’s cheek, her arm around my neck, or the twinkle in her eyes.
In my darkest moments I think to myself, “Why do I bother doing these things? She’s gone. She isn’t hearing or seeing any of this.”
But in other moments I think, “What if she is?”
It’s the thought that Maddie is somewhere, somehow still connected to my life, still feeling my love in some way, that keeps me saying, “I love you, Maddie” even though I am alone when I do it, keeps me singing her songs to her, and keeps me writing about how much she means to me (especially at sad times like these).
So Maddie, this is Daddy here to tell you how much I love and miss you.
Do you remember that photo shoot we did with Cat and Adi shortly after you came home?
Or when I lost a bet with Grandma and had to wear a Dodgers shirt to a baseball game?
Or when we dressed up like the Flintstones for your first birthday party and you dug your hands into your cake?
Or when we both dug into a cupcake at the birthday party for Reilly and Georgie?
Or how about when we just cuddled together and shared a smile?
I do. How could I ever forget?
Wherever you are, little girl, Daddy loves you forever and ever.
This is so beautiful. And it made me cry. My nephew died most 2 years ago and being on the outside of that grief whilst also being on the inside of it personally is really hard. I’m still processing and he wasn’t even my son. You write beautifully and it’s so sad and it’s not fair and my heart aches for your loss x
Crack You Whip says:
This is a beautiful story and tribute to your daughter. Thank you for sharing it.
Mike I am sending you and Heather and Annabel and all of Maddie’s people so much love. I know there really are not any words. I just wanted you to know that I remember your girl and I always will.
Looking at these photos, tears come to my eyes and I feel so impossibly sad (not even a fraction of what you and Heather are feeling). She was such a beautiful, special little girl and she loves you both so much.
You are an amazing father, Mike… One in a million. She can hear you somewhere, somehow. She is [part of your heart, your flesh, your soul.
She’s hearing you, Mike. I know it. Love to you guys. Been thinking about you a lot this week – especially when I see the purple flowers that are now blooming. XO
She hears you Mike. I just know it. The body may be gone but that beautiful spirit is forever here. I believe that nothing could be so cruel as to leave nothing when a loved one passes on. You are a very special Daddy. You guys are always in my thoughts (first place I hit as soon as the computer comes on) but even more so this week because I know you guys need as much strength as we can all send. ((hugs))
I believe, with all my heart, that Maddie is hearing you, Mike. She hears her Daddy’s words! So, please keep talking to her……..Lots of love to all of you
Sending you guys lots of love this weekend.
Mary Ann says:
Mike you are a wonderful Daddy – Maddie and Annie are lucky to have you in their lives. Keep talking to her – I know she hears you. I know how hard those anniversaries are – I want you and Heather to know I am thinking of you and will never forget your gorgeous Maddie – even though we have never met she has impacted my life in ways I could have never imagined. That was a beautiful post – I am sure your sweet angel is smiling down on all of you.
I truly believe our loved ones watch over us….
You’re an AMAZING daddy Mike & I truly, TRULY believe she DOES hear you, sees you & feels you!!!! And, if for whatever reason you have a difficult time believing this….I believe enough for the both of us!!!
Maddie is lucky to have parents like you and Heather. Thank you for sharing her with us.
Offering much love and support.
It must be so difficult to parent the empty space where your child used to be. I am so sorry she’s gone, Mike, and I think of your whole family all of the time. Especially now.
The pictures of her in that yellow dress . . . she was a beautiful little buttercup, a little sun. I wish she was still here.
I’m so, so sorry for your loss and pain. She was such a beautiful and special little girl. I know you can’t hug and kiss her but she does still live on through you, Heather and everyone else who ever knew and loved her.
I’m not a religious person by any stretch, but I’d like to think that those who have left us are still around, watching over us and comforting us when things are rough. Whenever I travel, I always ask my Mom to watch over me, and a part of me believes that she does. I truly feel that Maddie is watching over all of you, and enjoying the “big” girl her little sister is becoming.
You and Heather are in my thoughts always, but especially this week.
Kristen @ The Chronicles of Dutch says:
Thank you for sharing. Your family are always in my thoughts and prayers and will be this weekend.
Surrounding you with so much love and peace this week and always. Keep talking to her, she out there somewhere, listening and loving you back.
Tears….A sad but touching post. She is a beautiful little girl and is lucky to have Heather and you for parents. You both filled her with such love. You are right to hold on to that and keep it going. Never give up the things that keep you close to her.
Oh, Mike. I am so sorry for what you and Heather have gone through. I wish there were something that we could say or do that would make it better. It’s obvious what a good dad you are to both of your girls. Thinking of you and Heather at this difficult time of year.
So beautiful and touching, Mike.
Heaven Is For Real…..something tells me you and Heather have read it. But just in case. I believe.
Oh Mike, that was beautifully written.
Extra prayers sent to you and Heather this week. If you haven’t, I really recommend the book, Heaven is for Real. It helped me tremendously after my miscarriage.
Reading this and crying. Thinking of you!
I like that you guys are up front about not being very religious. I’m not either, but I hope Maddie can feel your love somehow. I’m thinking of you this week and hoping happy memories help ease your sorrow.
So many tears for you all this week. But keep doing what you’re doing, Mike. Maddie is listening to and watching over you all.
Thinking of you, Heather, Annie and your families during this difficult week.
Beautiful post for your beautiful girl!
Today I saw purple flowers blooming and thought of your Maddie.
Beautiful post, beautiful words.
Lori McBride says:
Don’t ever stop telling her these things..especially how much you love her. I know she hears you…and she’s saying those things right back to you. Praying for you guys in these difficult days, and thinking of your beautiful daughter. She has touched more people than you probably will ever realize.
Beautiful. You are in my thoughts this week.
I like to believe that Maddie is close by and she hears you. No matter where she is she knows how much you love her. Thinking of you extra this week. Take care.
so very tender. so much love…
I believe and I sincerely hope you will believe some day that Maddie is in Heaven and you will be reunited with her one day. They say that time is different in Heaven, that Maddie will turn around to look for you and you will be there — that our time on Earth moves slower than in Heaven, in other words. You always take my breath away with your very very tangible daddy-love. Both of your girls are so lucky to have you, Mike. Love and heartfelt prayers for you all this week.
Crying over here…It’s not fair. I’m so sorry. Thinking of you all! Love to Maddie!!
Dawn @What's Around the Next Bend? says:
Mike, I can’t believe it has been three years ago already! I remember that dreadful day when I checked in with your lovely family only to discover the horrific news. Your love for her shines through now as much as it did then. My thoughts and prayers are with you and yours like they have been over the last 3 years.
I believe she is more connected to you than you are allowing yourself to know. Protective armour makes us miss the obvious signs. There are times when a memory sweeps over me like no other and at that moment I know it’s my sweet baby boy just making sure I know he’s there.
Over the last 4 years (since we lost by son) there are things I have come to relate to my son. When I see a single black bird flying solo, and circling around until I notice…that to me is by sweet baby Will saying hello.
OUt of the bue my 3 year old daughter will tell me Baby Will is happy….especially on the days I need it most…a message rom heaven for sure!
Just believe. That is what you need. Everything else is material. In your heart she is with you and that is because she is. He role, until you meet again, is to guide you and protect you.
Oh Mike! As so many others have said, I too believe that Maddie’s spirit can never be lost! That she knows her daddy still loves her, thinks of her, talks to her, sings to her, and writes songs for her.
And I think she sees what an incredible daddy you are to Annie and is blessed by that too.
Three years~seems like forever and it seems like an instant since she was here. When I find I can’t express what I want to say sufficiently, I resort to stealing quotes from others. But these words are heartfelt. And please, please know, that you and Heather (as well as extended family) are in my thoughts and prayers this week especially.
“When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.”
“When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your
“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal.”
Mike, you are an awesome dad!
Sending much love and strength to you all, especially during these darker days. Love from Florida!
I wish there was a big old hug for your heart. I believe she can hear you.
Crying with you….Mike, she SEES. She HEARS. Please, please believe that. I know that as sure as I know I’m sitting here right now typing this.
It is so hard to comprehend how someone can just be GONE. Forever. But knowing we’ll see them again softens the blow.
Love, hugs, and prayers to you all.
Thinking of you and your family….and remembering your beautiful daughter Maddie.
It has been a long time since I’ve commented on this blog, but I still read it at least once a week, 3 years later. And this post touched me, and made me (a robot) cry. Your story has saddened me in a way I can’t describe, as I am always fascinated with the human condition/sad things. Nothing has hit home like Maddie’s story. Thank you for continuing to share and be open with your feelings. I know it probably doesn’t feel like it makes a difference in your grief, but I have a feeling that this blog has made a HUGE difference in how you and heather have “soldiered on.” Keep on keepin’ on…
Colleen from MN says:
She IS connected. Still. Believe, I know you already do, don’t ever stop. She is with you always. Always.
Stephanie F says:
Someday Maddie will put her arms around your neck again… I am certain of this. She will also get to play with her little sister… Maddie is not gone forever from your arms. I do not know how it is after we die, but too many stories have me convinced she is not far away.